From military child to military physician

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jenay Randolph
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
With the ever changing lifestyle of United States Armed Forces members, it is important to ensure that the safety and wellness of the military child is maintained. Therefore, the flawless execution of our medical professionals in the military, more specifically pediatricians, is vital to all military families.

"I can appreciate the challenges military children and their parents face when sponsors deploy or frequent moves are required," said Maj. James Tschudy, a pediatrician with the 6th Medical Operations Squadron. "As the child of an Air Force communications officer, I moved nine times before my 18th birthday."

Military children go through the same aches, illnesses and injuries that most children do, but often with the added stress of a recent PCS, parent's deployments and military lifestyles.

Tschudy endured many of to the challenges military children face. His father spent 27 years in the Air Force, which exposed Tschudy and his nine siblings to different geographies, cultures and people.

Although Tschudy felt as if he had to start over socially and adjust to a new school's curriculum every time he moved, growing up in a military environment gave him a deep appreciation for his country and a sense of patriotism.

"I think my experience has helped me become a well-rounded person," expressed Tschudy. "As a child, I had challenges; but they have only helped me become the physician and father I am today."

During his last two years of high school, Tschudy met Air Force physicians from his church who influenced his decision to go to medical school. Two years after high school, Tschudy applied for the Health Profession Scholarship Program (HPSP) and was accepted.

Today, he has eight years of active-duty service under his belt, and four little girls of his own with a boy on the way. He works hard to balance being a parent on one hand and a pediatrician on the other.

"As a parent, we worry and stress about the transition our kids go through when we move," he said. "We moved just last summer; and there have been major changes with the school systems, extracurricular activities and new friendships."

Along with parental stressors come work stressors; because with every permanent change in station (PCS), medical physicians have to re-learn what services, specialists, children's hospitals and medical options are available in the new area.

"I am meeting new patients all the time and will never have the consistency or longevity with them like civilian doctors," said Tschudy. "Civilian doctors have the privilege and advantage of watching a child grow up in front of them, and sometimes take care of their patient's parents as well."

Although being a part of the military has challenges, there can be even greater rewards. To Tschudy, what's important is making a difference in children's lives and having the privilege to give families reassurance that no matter what the parents are doing, their children are taken care of.

"One of the things I like most is when I see a patient of mine in town or at the commissary and they point and say, 'Look mom, there's my doctor!'" said Tschudy "I love the 'my' sense of ownership and connectedness, and I love thinking about them as 'my' patients as well." 

For Tschudy, the great part about being a military child and parent is that his life experiences allow him to have a certain relatability to military children, but even more importantly to their parents.

"I love taking care of these kids! They are fun and resilient," expressed Tschudy. "I believe they deserve the best care we can offer because of the sacrifices that both they and their parents make on a daily basis."